Man Developed Life-Threatening Infection “Sepsis” Due to Cat Bite | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Man Developed Life-Threatening Infection “Sepsis” Due to Cat Bite

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“I had a high fever of 40 degrees due to some kind of infection.”

The tweet “I was bitten (scratched) by a cat and went into septic shock,” was tweeted at the end of May and received 92,000 likes.

What is shocking, as well as the seriousness of the symptoms, is that it happened from a very common cause: being bitten by a cat.

How did it happen? We interviewed the tweeter, Ichinose, a 32-year-old man who manages a website for a mail-order company.

“I woke up at around 4:00 a.m. on May 11, felt a slight fever and lethargy, and when I took my temperature at around 7:00 a.m., it was about 38 degrees Celsius. I thought it might be corona, so I called the consultation center and took a PCR test, but the result, which came out in the evening, was negative.”

“However, my fever rose to 39 degrees Celsius, and my back pain was so severe that I could not sleep. I managed to hold out until the next morning, but I still could not stand it, so I called the emergency consultation center and went to the university hospital at 5 in the morning.”

Perhaps because he complained of back pain, he was made to bend and stretch his legs, and the diagnosis he received before noon was “some kind of infection.” However, the details were not known, and he decided to see the doctor the next day, but his symptoms worsened further. In the evening, his fever exceeded 40 degrees Celsius, and his family called an ambulance.


“The ambulance took me to the same hospital, but this time the response was very different. They did blood tests, X-rays, CT scans, etc., and asked me about my relative’s medical history.”

“From there, around 9 pm, they said, ‘We found the cause of the problem.’ I remembered that one or two weeks before the onset of the disease, my cat had bitten me hard and I was bleeding.”

Ichinose currently has three cats, but he started keeping cats eight years ago. Since he has been bitten and scratched by many cats, he had no idea that this was the cause of the disease. But why did he develop the disease this time?

He said, “I don’t know exactly why, but when I first had my blood work done, my immune levels had dropped to less than half of normal, and my blood pressure was abnormally low, in the 70 mmHg range on the top.”

After it was determined that he had sepsis, he was rushed to the ICU and placed under general anesthesia with two tubes in each arm and neck and one in his nose, his mouth intubated, and oxygen inhalation.

“When I woke up the next day, I was surprised to hear that I had survived. It was as if they had explained to my family, ‘Tonight is the end of your life.’”

He was moved to the general ward on May 16. However, he continued to have a low fever and found that water had accumulated in his lungs.

He said, “The standard range for kidney values (creatinine standard value) is 1.00 (mg/dL) or less for men, but the first time I measured it, it was 1.7. I was told that I would be hospitalized until that value was lowered, and I continued treatment, but finally it only went down to 1.5, and I was discharged on May 25.”

“Now I have no particular symptoms, no oral medications, and am only scheduled to go back for a checkup in three months.”

However, there is one thing that stuck out in his mind when he was discharged from the hospital.

“They told me that it was very rare for someone in his 30s like me to have a severe case of sepsis without any pre-existing medical conditions.”

“And then I asked myself, ‘Will the cat scratch me when I get home?’ Since I was in this condition, I was scared at first and tried not to touch the cat myself too much, but gradually my fear started to fade. The other day I actually got scratched by a cat, which scared me immensely.”

11 million people die of “sepsis” annually worldwide (Photo: Afro)

11 million “sepsis” deaths a year worldwide.

Did Ichinose-san happen to be unlucky to have sepsis? According to Professor Takaaki Nakata of Chiba University Graduate School of Medicine’s Department of Emergency and Intensive Care Medicine, “Sepsis is the most common cause of death in Japan.”

“Sepsis has actually been on the rise in recent years, with 48.9 million people worldwide developing sepsis in 2017, of which 11 million died, prompting the WHO to designate sepsis as a global issue to be addressed. It’s estimated that 20 percent of all deaths worldwide are related to sepsis.”

Utilizing the DPC, a database of insured medical care that covers the majority of hospitalized patients in Japan, Professor Nakata and his colleagues extracted sepsis patients from more than 50 million hospitalized patients registered by medical institutions from 2010 to 2017. The study analyzed the patients’ backgrounds and details of their infections.

“The results show that 4% of hospitalized patients, or about 2 million, developed sepsis, of which about 360,000 died.”

“In 2010, sepsis accounted for 3% of all hospital admissions, or about 110,000 patients, but this number jumped to 5%, or 360,000 patients, in 2017. On the other hand, length of stay and mortality rates are down.”

“In other words, medical care is getting better, but the number of people getting sepsis is increasing as the population ages.”

The definition of sepsis, revised in 2016, states that it is “a life-threatening illness caused by an uncontrolled biological reaction to an infection that results in damage to one’s own tissues and organs.”

“When an infection is caused by bacteria or viruses, the body’s immune system is activated to eliminate the infection. However, when this immune function is out of control and goes haywire, it can damage the body’s own organs and tissues.”

“The organs and tissues that can be damaged by sepsis depend on the type of infection and the site of infection. For example, a person who becomes severely ill with Covid-19 (a new type of coronavirus infection) and suffers respiratory failure is included in the “sepsis” category.”

Is sepsis caused by the bite of a pet, such as a cat, also a common occurrence?

“When you search the Internet, you can find many cases of septicemia caused by cat bites. It is called “animal bite,” and since the inside of an animal’s mouth is a den of bacteria, it is quite possible for the bacteria to enter the body and cause septicemia.”

“Besides, injuries can also be the cause. There was a case of a boy named Rory Staughton, who was 12 years old at the time, who got a scratch on his elbow while playing basketball, became ill, went home from a large hospital in New York, but was not found to have sepsis and died four days later. In another case, Seibu coach Shinji Mori died suddenly at the young age of 42, due to sepsis caused by a highly virulent streptococcus bacteria that entered the soft tissues of his skin through a minor wound and caused an infection.”

“Even a young person with no pre-existing medical conditions can be at risk of death, depending on the type of bacteria.”

The most important thing to do when bitten or injured by an animal is to wash the wound immediately.

The incidence rate of sepsis per 1,000 hospitalized patients and the number of deaths due to sepsis are increasing every year (data on over 50 million hospitalized patients in Japan were extracted from DPC).
“Call an ambulance if the patient is critically ill. It is important to know that sepsis is something that causes organ damage, has sequelae, and has a high mortality rate,” said Professor Nakata (Photo: Afro).

Severe aftereffects can occur.

He also says that early detection and treatment can save many people. What symptoms should one suspect sepsis?

“The symptoms listed on are: fever (38°C or higher), low body temperature (36°C or lower), rapid pulse (90 beats/minute or higher), rapid breathing (20 beats/minute or higher), strange behavior, general swelling, blood pressure lower than usual, and abnormally cold hands and feet. If you have two or more of these items, you should visit a medical institution.”

Incidentally, is it dangerous for a person like Ichinose-san, who has been bitten and developed sepsis, to be bitten again?


“In the case of anaphylaxis, there is a mechanism whereby a person who has been bitten once will suffer a major anaphylaxis if he is bitten again, but I don’t think there is anything special about sepsis.”

“However, sepsis is said to cause some aftereffects and impairments in cognitive function, motor function, the immune system, and other functions throughout the body, so there is a possibility that the patient could become infected again and develop sepsis.”

If a patient has symptoms that are suspicious of sepsis, where should he or she go to see a doctor?

“In the case of sepsis, early detection and early treatment is the most important thing, so I think it is best to visit a university hospital or a large general hospital.”

“Just as it is dangerous to try to walk to the hospital in spite of a complete stroke, call an ambulance if the patient is seriously ill. Know that it is something that causes organ damage, has sequelae, and has a high mortality rate.”

Takaaki Nakata, M.D., Ph. He graduated from Chiba University School of Medicine in 1999 and joined the Department of Emergency and Intensive Care Medicine at the same university. After working as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia School of Medicine, he will assume his current position in 2019.

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  • Interview and text by Wakako Tako

    Born in 1973. After working for a publishing company and an advertising production company, became a freelance writer. In addition to interviewing actors for weekly and monthly magazines, she writes drama columns for various media. His main publications include "All Important Things Are Taught by Morning Drama" (Ota Publishing), "KinKiKids: Owarinaki Michi" and "Hey!

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